There are still many procedural steps that must be taken to pass the Senate’s gun control legislation, including solidifying the language of the bill itself, and there is still the possibility that the bill will ultimately not pass.
According to Axios, the bill tentatively has just enough support to overcome a filibuster and be passed by the upper chamber, with exactly 10 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in support. None of the 10 Republicans in question are up for re-election this year, and four of them are retiring in January.
The primary framework for the bill was negotiated by Democrats Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Republicans John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). The measure is set to include even stricter background checks, more funding for mental health and school safety, and financial incentives for individual states to implement their own “red flag” laws. The bill is supported by Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
An anonymous Republican aide warned, however, that the exact language of the bill could determine whether or not the deal could end up falling short of the 60-vote threshold, which would lead to the deal’s total collapse.
“The details will be critical for Republicans, particularly the firearms-related provisions,” the aide said. “One or more of these principles could be dropped if text is not agreed to.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also remains a wild card, having voiced his support for the negotiations while not yet announcing his stance on the legislation itself.
“I am glad Senators Cornyn and Murphy are continuing to make headway in their discussions,” McConnell has said. “I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate, and makes a difference for our country.”
There are also intra-party politics intertwined with the negotiation of the bill; Senator Cornyn, who has been designated as the leader of Republican negotiations on the issue, is allegedly considered a possible successor to McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. But the bill’s unpopularity with the Republican base could harm his image with his own voters.
Both parties are facing backlash from their respective bases over the possible bill; Republican voters, as well as the majority of independent and moderate voters, overwhelmingly disapprove of gun control and favor more Second Amendment freedoms. Meanwhile, most Democratic voters think the legislation would not go far enough because it does not actually ban firearms, nor does it include other controversial measures such as raising the minimum age for firearms purchases from 18 to 21.
In the midst of the failing economy, multiple international crises, and other woes that have plagued the Democratic Party since Biden took power, the party has been desperate to distract from inflation and other economic troubles with more social and cultural issues. The Left has already rallied some protests around the country to try to shift the narrative towards gun control as the dominant issue ahead of November’s midterms.